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Letter from 47 Political Prisoners to Rouhani and the Iranian People

Hassan Rouhani campaigned on the claim that he held the key to a more open society. Photo credit: Mehdi Ghasemi/ISNA

(June 25, 2013) – On Monday, June 17, 2013, forty-seven political prisoners from Evin and Rajaee Shahr prisons presented a letter of congratulation to President-Elect Hassan Rouhani and the people of Iran following the June 14 elections.

The signatories of the letter, who at the time of signing were all serving prison terms in connection with the post-election protests of 2009, encouraged those who participated in the protests to forgive government forces for the ensuing crackdown—which led to 117 recorded deaths of protesters and hundreds of arrests, including the arrests of the authors of the letter. They go on to stress the importance of engaging with the incoming government in the interest of improving the economic and social situation in the country.

One of the signatories of the letter, journalist Jila Bani Yaghoub, has since been released from Evin prison following the completion of a one-year sentence.

The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC) has translated the full text of the letter below:

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent,

The honorable people of Iran took a glorious step towards democracy and progress in Iran by their epic participation [in the elections that took place] on June 14, 2013.

On June 15, 2013, the surprising announcement of the victory of the candidate who was supported by Mr. Khatami and Mr. Hashemi and all political parties, groups and people who advocate free and fair elections side-by-side with the Iranian people brought to mind the glorious Green Movement of June 15, 2009. We congratulate Dr. Hassan Rouhani and the people of the nation; [Dr. Rouhani] has been lent the trust of the people. This astounding choice was a vote by the people of Iran in favor of reviving the republic and the absolute sovereignty of the popular will, which have atrophied under oligarchy, dogmatism and paternalism.

“After enduring decades of events both sweet and bitter in their political and social lives, the people of Iran obtained a worthy experience over eight years in which [authorities] turned their back on wisdom. Once again, [the people] voted for wisdom and moderation and disregarded extremism and controversy. It is cause for happiness that this time the government reacted wisely to public opinion at the last stage [of the election], but [we] wish the state had reacted similarly to the [June] 2009 election and spared the people all of the oppression [that they endured] and the country of the costs [of that oppression]—Iran missed an historical opportunity. If it hadn’t [missed that opportunity], not only would citizens’ rights have been preserved but the state would have maintained its authority. But despite all of these past difficulties we should value this delayed thoughtfulness. These years have been very costly: the house arrest of Mr. Mousavi, Mr. Karroubi, and Ms. Rahnavard, the respected leaders of the Green Movement and the martyrdom, imprisonment and emigration [of other people] are examples of the oppression that took place. Today, four years of patience in the face of [such] difficulties bore fruit—the promise of a better tomorrow.                

But now, having learned from these experiences, we cannot stay stuck in the past. Indeed, despite all of the bitter disappointments, [we] must leave the bitter past behind us and bring hope to life and seek to build a better future. Today, all forces and interests—the state and the citizenry—are passengers in a storm-tossed vessel, and they must heed the sacred call to always be kind to others; with each others’ help, they can strive to get the vessel to the safety of land.

The experiences of these past years have proven to us that speaking alone, no matter how loud and angry the voice, can cause damage—but it cannot lead anywhere, and it does not win people over. These diverse, multifarious and coordinated voices come from a society that can compose the harmonious music of cooperation and action to replace pessimism, hatred, conflict and destruction. 

There is no doubt that the new president will take over a ruins whose economy, foreign relations, domestic affairs and relations with its people are in an unfavorable and critical state. Naturally in such a context the new presidential administration cannot be expected to work miracles. But it can certainly be expected of the new president and his administration to return the administration of public affairs to the orbit of wisdom and justice, to make the rights of the people as stipulated in the Constitution uncontestable, end the authoritarian security state atmosphere that governs society, to remove obstacles to the activities of social and civic organizations, to aid in the growth and blossoming of talents and abilities, to put an end to tyranny and oppression which have come about due to the multiplicity of structures and procedures that have been put in place for parts of the government, and more importantly than anything, to improve the people’s difficult living conditions. The demands that were expressed in people’s grievances and election meetings that have crystallized all fall under one heading: the protection and maintenance of the freedoms and dignities ensured by law to all citizens.

We trust that Dr. Rouhani will succeed in this daunting task for which he has taken responsibility. We hope and pray to God that he succeeds in his service to the great nation of Iran and that the contract that he has forged with the people is realized.

Names of signatories:

1. Mohsen Mirdamadi

2. Abolfazl Ghadiani

3. Ali Reza Beheshti Shirazi

4. Mostafa Tajzadeh

5. Abdollah Momeni

6. Mohsen Aminzadeh

7. Ali Reza Rajai

8. Feizollah Arabsorkhi

9. Mohammad Amin Hadavi

10. Emad Bahavar

11. Hassan Assadi Zeidabadi

12. Saeed Madani

13. Mohammad Sadegh Rabbani Amlashi

14. Ghorban Behzadian Nejad

15. Mohammad Reza Moghiseh

16. Siamak Ghaderi

17. Keyvan Samimi Behbehani

18. Abolfazl Abedini Nasr

19. Massoud Bastani

20. Amir Khosrow Delirsani

21. Jila Bani Yaghoub

22. Mahsa Amrabadi

23. Hossein Ronaghi Maleki

24. Mehdi Mahmoudian

25. Mohammad Davari

26. Mostafa Badkoobei

27. Bahman Ahmadi Amouee

28. Ahmad Hashemi

29. Siavash Hatam

30. Mehdi Tahaghoghi

31. Jafar Ganji

32. Mehdi Khodaei

33. Amin Chalaki

34. Mostafa Nili

35. Hamid Karvasi

36. Nasour Naghipour

37. Mahmoud Bagheri

38. Mohammad Ebrahimi

39. Mehdi Tajik

40. Mohammad Ali Velayati

41. Ali Zakeri

42. Hossein Zarini

43. Mostafa Rismanbaf

44. Kamyar Parsa

45. Nader Jani

46. Behzad Arab Gol

47. Mohammad Hassan Yousef Pourseifi